The Dolphins have been boosted by the return of powerhouse trio David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo and Imran Tahir for their opening One Day Cup clash with the Highveld Lions at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Saturday.
Included in the squad are other A-list players such as Morne van Wyk, Dane Vilas and Rob Frylinck, who make up a squad that is likely to wipe out the memories of a tough 4-Day Franchise Series campaign where they finished fifth on the log. They will be hoping to start well in the limited-overs version of the game, a format they enjoy.
‘I think that the 50-over format is one that suits our players,’ said captain Khaya Zondo. ‘We always seem to take a bit more of a liking to white-ball cricket naturally, but the basics of the game don’t change and you have to play good, disciplined cricket.
‘There is a bit of a four-day element to one-day cricket, because 50 overs is quite a long time so we have to find a balance.’
A number of their players have either been with the Proteas or playing overseas, so there are a few squad members who have only linked up recently. However, with a good portion of their squad having played high-quality cricket they will be in a good space going into the tournament.
For Zondo, the approach to this campaign more mental, rather than trying to tweak aspects of the squad’s performance.
‘I think that we have to just look at our mindset going into the competition. It’s a case of the guys reconnecting with each other and getting back into that Dolphins squad environment. If we are ready to play for each other and play well individually, then I think we are on the right track,’ added the skipper.
The Dolphins will head into the competition with a fresh focus and another opportunity to give the fans a taste of success, and coach Grant Morgan is looking forward to the fresh start.
‘It is a clean slate for us, but I see it as an opportunity to win another trophy and not defend our title,’ said Morgan. ‘We are really excited about this tournament because we probably go into it with our most experienced side in a format that we enjoy a lot.
‘There are some incredible cricketers in our squad and we are looking forward to going hard for another trophy. The squad is fully loaded for the tournament and we have sent a few guys away to play for Coastals this weekend because they haven’t played too much recently, but we are ready to go.’
The Lions will come to Pietermaritzburg with a lot of confidence following their impressive showing in the 4-Day competition where they won on the final day. However, Morgan believes his squad will also be confident about their game.
‘They have been doing really well, but we don’t want to worry about them, we want to focus on our game and what we can control. They are coming with a lot of momentum, but they are going to have to come to our home ground and beat us.
‘If we can put all the pieces together this competition and the squad are happy, we are going to be a seriously tough nut to crack,’ added a positive Morgan.
Dolphins squad (vs Highveld Lions)
Vaughn van Jaarsveld
Morne van Wyk
Khaya Zondo (c)
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images